Lumad forced to evacuate anew for fear of aerial strikes

“Hindi naman kami terorista pero kami ang inooperasyon ng militar” (We are not terrorists yet we are targeted by military operations), Josephine Pagalan, a Lumad council member of Sandugo – Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self Determination said a day after 2,047 Lumad residents of Lianga, Surigao del Sur left their homes for fear of airstrikes. This came after the Supreme Court upheld Pres. Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao due to the terrorist threat of ISIS in Marawi City.

On July 5, 2017 at around 1am, a bomber plane of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) hovered around the mountains in the nine communities of Lianga, including Han ayan, where two years ago Lumad leaders Datu Juvello Sinzo, Dionel Campos and school administrator Emerito Samarca were massacred by Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group with the 36th Infantry Battalion. The 75th IBPA, 36th IBPA and 6th Special Forces Battalion have been conducting military operations in these areas since July 3, 2017.

Pagalan also represents Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), a Lumad organization based in the Caraga region.

“Hindi pa nga kami nakakabangon sa pagbabakwit namin, nagbabakwit na naman kami” (We have yet to recover from being dislocated, and now we are again forced to evacuate), Pagalan said. The Lumad from Lianga spent more than a year in an evacuation center in Tandag City after the massacre on September 1, 2015. They returned in 2016 to find their homes and fields ransacked and wrecked.
“Ang mga Lumad at Moro ang binibigwasan ng batas militar. Nasisira ang buhay at kinabukasan ng aming mga anak dahil hindi makapag-aral,” (The Lumad and Moro bear the brunt of martial law. Our lives and our children’s future our destroyed with their schooling interrupted) Pagalan said. “Military approach has never been an effective solution to the country’s problems. Martial law and All-Out war only impacts their way of life and culture, thus driving them to fight back,” Pagalan said.

“Kung gusto talaga ni Pres. Duterte na matigil ang rebelyon o maging ang terorismo , kailangang malutas niya muna ang mga dahilan ng armadong tunggalian. Sa aming mga pambansang minorya, ito ay kahirapan, pang-aagaw sa lupang ninuno at teritoryo at daang taong karahasan,” (If Pres. Duterte truly wants to end rebellion or even terrorism, he first needs to resolve the roots of the armed conflict. For us national minorities, this is poverty, land grabbing of ancestral lands and territories and hundred years of violence) Pagalan said.

A total of 633 Lumad students including 43 volunteer teachers from the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), Inc. and five community schools run by the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur are affected with the suspension of classes due to the evacuation. The evacuees, are curently staying at the Simowao Tribal Community School. ###

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